The Beast of Bone Mountain

 

 

The Beast of Bone Mountain

 

 

By: Keith Adam Luethke

 

 

 

 

 

March 1
st

 

              It was late February when the beast from the mountain slaughtered my wife and only son. Spring had yet to come, the mornings were bitter cold, the trees sleeping their dead slumber, and the frogs croaked ceaselessly down by the creek bank and along the muddy, sleepy hollows of Mascot, Tennessee. Our life had been a sedated and mundane affair, and I took all of the trivial times of the past for granted.

             
My wife’s name was, Linda, and my son’s was Adam. We’d only been married for a year, but had been together for four. We had lived in a secluded cabin resting on ten acres of backwoods nestled between a swamp and ridgeline prior to their murder. We had bought the land first, unable to purchase a house, and slowly saved up the money to put a manufactured home on the site which I then converted into a cabin. I spent tireless days in the summer sun cutting wood, measuring, nailing, and screwing everything together; it was hard work, but eventually we moved out of her parent’s basement and into our new home. Unknown to us at the time, we were not alone. Someone, or should I say something was lurking in the forest, stalking, hiding, blending in like a twilight shadow, and staying just out of reach. We felt watched, observed, and unsafe.

             
My wife kept a small garden. In early March she would turn the soil and plan what crops she wanted to watch grow for the season, but that year she didn’t want a garden. She was afraid of the lurking shadow in the woods and stayed shut in the cabin with our son much of the time.

             
I tried to buy her a gun but she wanted no part of it; firearms just weren’t for her. I bought a large serrated hunting knife for her instead; it was made of surgical steel, sharp as hell, and with a fine bone handle. She liked the knife and kept it close to her under the pillow, but in the end it did her no good.

             
I left early one Saturday morning to go to work at a scrap metal yard like I always did. I kissed her goodbye, watched my son sleeping for a minute and left.

             
I was only twenty minutes into my hour long drive to work when my wife called. She told me she’d heard a loud bang at the front door, like somebody trying to get inside.

             
I told her that it was probably just a plank of wood falling from the pile that I’d stacked on the porch the day before. She insisted that nothing had fallen and that someone was there. She told me she was turning on the porch light and then her phone cut off. I called her back over and over again but she never answered. I considered calling the police but decided to just drive back home and check on her.

             
I called my boss and told him that I’d be late. He wasn’t happy but I promised it wouldn’t take long.

             
When I arrived, the front door was broken apart, smashed inward by an unfathomable force. Pieces of wood and glass were everywhere I looked.

             
I ran inside, screaming for Linda and Adam. The cabin was in chaos; our living room suffered the worst of the attack: large claw marks adorned the walls, the couch was torn in half, and the pictures on the mantle were shredded.

             
I stepped over broken toys and a family portrait lying on the floor like worthless trash, and made my way into the bedroom. There I discovered our master door torn off the hinges and wet pools of blood seeped into the carpet. My family was nowhere to be found.

             
My heart sank as I frantically shouted their names again and looked for them. I discovered the kitchen window broken and the hunting knife I’d given Linda for protection embedded in a cupboard.

             
I pulled the knife free and it came away with pieces of long, dark matted hair and blood.

             
I took the knife and ran outside. There, I caught a glimpse of the killer. He was a giant hairy beast with grayish fur, long arms that hung down to his knees, and curled claws. He dragged Linda behind him; his claws wedged in her long dark hair. My son was nowhere in sight.

             
I charged, brandishing the hunting knife.

             
The beast howled, dropped my wife and batted me aside, but, I’d impaled its palm, the knife ran straight through.

             
I hit the ground hard, my breath knocked out.

             
The beast gave a horrible screeching wail and ripped the knife from its hand.

             
I got to my feet and headed for Linda. I could see her chest slowly rise and fall, she wasn’t dead yet.

             
The beast looked at me and then at my wife, I noticed some intelligence there, cruel and full of malice.

             
The beast lifted the knife and brought it down in the middle of my wife’s spine. She jerked with the blow and then went limp.

             
I screamed and attacked.

             
But, instead of fighting me, it ran.

             
I stopped charging when I reached Linda’s body. Her eyes were wide in terror. She was dead.

             
I tried to wretch the knife from her back but it was stuck.

             
I ran into the forest after the monster, screaming, cursing, and following its blood trail the best I could.

             
I chased the beast well into the morning hours. I never saw it but I could smell its skunk like odor radiating throughout the area. The blood trail got thin and then disappeared altogether. The forest grew dense and it grew harder and harder to navigate.

             
Eventually, I found a road and sank to my knees, out of breath, out of time, angry, alone, and full of seething rage.

             
The police stumbled on me trying to find the beast’s trail as it transitioned from road back into the woods.

             
Foolishly, I told them everything: how my wife had called, about the beast and how it had murdered my family, how it had stabbed my wife, and how I couldn’t find my son. They took me in, investigated the property, and locked me up until everything got straightened out.

             
In the end, they only found pieces of my boy’s teeth, and my wife was missing her head. Apparently, the beast had come back while I chased it, circling around, and claiming a prize. The police blamed it on a black bear and locked me up in an Asylum called, The Garden.             

             
They found and killed the supposed black bear, but my son’s remains and chunks missing from my wife weren’t inside its belly. The media used the bear as a means to an end, wrapping up the terrible travesty, and claiming no monsters existed in the wilds of the forest, and everyone was safe . . . but I know better. I know what I saw.

             
Years passed.

             
I drew pictures of the beast in my padded cell and in therapy. The doctor’s laughed behind my back calling it, Bigfoot, and saying that I was crazy.

             
I was locked out of sight. Nobody talked to me, and I was haunted with the need for revenge. I began to jog and lift weights each day. I grew stronger, fast, and focused all my pain and loss into strengthen my body.

             
I told the doctors I’d been lying about seeing the beast. I told them it was a black bear. I lied about everything, played sane, and after countless tests I was released.

             
Now, it is past the third anniversary of my wife and son’s untimely death, and I am free to hunt and take from the beast what it has stolen from me.

             
Currently, I’m in a hotel room in Knoxville, Tennessee, but tomorrow I will be in the woods of Mascot, hunting and tracking down the creature. I have little in the way of preparations but plan on meeting my brother, Marcus, for lunch tomorrow, and begging him for money.

             
Such a beast is not worthy of life, and it will feel the full rage of my humanity before the end. I will either succeed or die trying; there is no middle ground, and no running away.

 

 

March 2
nd

 

             
My meeting with Marcus went better than I expected. I haven’t seen him since my wedding. He never called after the incident with the beast, but did write me a letter when I was in The Garden. He promised he’d help me if I ever got out and needed him. I asked him for four-hundred dollars over tacos and he gave me six hundred. Also, he told me he talked to my old boss and he could get me my old job back. I took the money and said that I needed a little more time off before I went back to work.

             
He understood and told me he’d brought a gift.

             
Outside the Taco Hut where we were having lunch sat my old truck. I’d failed to recognize it because he’d painted it red when it was once navy blue. He’d kept it safe for me all these years, did all the repairs and oil and transmission changes throughout the years and even got new tires put on in the hopes that I’d be free again one day.

             
I thanked him and went to my truck. The outside was a brilliant cherry red, but the inside was still the same as I recalled, minus the candy wrappers my son always left behind on the dashboard.

             
Marcus and I parted ways and made promises to see each other more often in the future.

             
I spent the remainder of the day buying supplies: a good backpack capable of supporting a rolled up sleeping bag and one man tent, dried foods, granola bars, weather radio, plenty of water bottles, rain coat, hat, gloves, waterproof matches, flashlight, Pop-Tarts, and a local newspaper, tent, and sleeping bag.

             
By the time I’d purchased the items and stored them in my new backpack it was getting near dark. I made one last stop at a dead end gas station and filled up the truck and bought four handmade sausage biscuits only offered there; I hadn’t had one in years and was dying to sink my teeth into them.

             
I was nearly out the door when a young lady called out my name.

             
“Russo, is that you?”

             
When I turned to look she was unfamiliar to me. She had long unnatural red hair which was curly, a petite five-foot two frame, and a pretty face. She wore a faded X-Files T-shirt and pink and black shorts that showed off her shapely thighs.

             
“Russo,” she repeated when I said nothing. “It’s me, Heather. I run my father’s farm. You and your wife used to buy corn and fresh strawberries from me.”

             
I suddenly did remember her. She was younger then, a college student studying agriculture and working on her father, Herbert’s farm. She was kind, smart, shy, and cute. But the years had been kinder to her than me and I caught myself gazing over her body more than once. I felt guilty. She only smiled more, flashing pearly white teeth.

             
“I remember you. My wife loved your corn and my boy always ate your strawberries with vanilla ice cream,” I replied, saddened by memory. “How is your father?”

             
“The Lord saw fit to take him. I’m running his farm now full time.”

             
“I’m sorry to hear that. I have to go home now,” I spat, and headed for the door. I didn’t want to be rude but I had business to attend to and it was getting dark.

             
Heather followed me out of the gas station.

             
“Things aren’t the same anymore,” Heather tried to explain.

             
I stopped by my truck holding the bag of biscuits. “What do you mean?”

             
“Has nobody told you?” she asked and frowned.

             
I shook my head.

             
“Your cabin in the woods burned down. There’s nothing left but a weed choked mess,” she said. “I’m really sorry to be the one to tell you.”

             
My heart sank. Memories of the cabin vividly flashed in my head. My boy was playing outside chasing grasshoppers. My wife and I were drinking sweet tea on the porch. It was hard to imagine that everything was gone, that those memories were all I had left.

             
“How did it happen?”

             
“Nobody knows for sure,” Heather answered. “Since you were my nearest neighbor I always kept an eye on it, but one night it was burning, I could see it from the road. I called the fire department but it was too late. They blamed it on teenagers, but later I heard stories of lightning, the FBI, and that you burned it down yourself. It’s hard to believe anything anymore.”

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